Bill Bryson at home in NorfolkA leading group which champions the protection of the English countryside is set to be led by an American.

Bill Bryson, the witty journalist and author from Des Moines, Iowa, will head the Campaign to Protect Rural England – and he’s already started talking rubbish.

Left: Bill Bryson at home in Norfolk 

©David Rose 

Litter will be high on Anglophile Bill’s agenda: he has pledged to write to both likely Labour Prime Minister Gordon Brown and Tory leader David Cameron to urge hitting fly-tippers and litterbugs with hefty fines.

The Campaign to Protect Rural England (CPRE) will endorse his presidency at its annual meeting in July.

Bill Bryson is best known for his acerbic but affectionate books including Notes from a Small Island and his account of backpacking the Appalachian Trail, A Walk in the Woods. He now lives in Norfolk, having spent much of his life in Malhamdale, in the Yorkshire Dales.

He is set to succeed former newspaper editor and hero of the Falklands conflict Sir Max Hastings in the post. The CPRE says it hopes his election will raise the profile of the charity.

Mr Bryson said: “I’m very honoured to be asked. For a very long time I’ve been a huge admirer of CPRE, what it does and what it stands for. I’d like to help it to build on its successes if I can.”

CPRE chairman Sir Nigel Thompson said: “We’re just delighted that Bill has agreed to be put forward as CPRE President.

“He’s a person who communicates how wonderful and precious England’s countryside is to the widest possible audience. He has particular concerns about some kinds of damage to the countryside, such as litter, and we’ll be working with him on those. But Bill understands and supports our fight across the board.

“In putting him forward to our AGM we also want to pay a big tribute to Max Hastings for the tremendous job he has done as CPRE President over the past five years. We wish him the very best for the future.”

Bill Bryson is chancellor of Durham University and was awarded an honorary OBE for services to literature. Actress Prunella Scales preceded Sir Max Hastings as president of the CPRE.